Who Knew?

Who knew that starting a new full-time job would completely disrupt my schedule? Okay, so I probably could have guessed that. Despite this revelation I have managed to get quite a bit done in January. I did start my new job and while there are nuances I believe I still need to learn I have the broad strokes of what the job is going to entail understood. The rest of learning the job is simply going to be living the job and seeing what comes up. Hopefully I will start touring houses this upcoming week and getting my pre-approval finalized. Yay. Onto crafting.

Spin-Off Magazine decided to hold a Cowl-Along for 2021, for this project we are to spin and create a cowl from the spun yarn. I chose the Creepy Corriedale Wool I received from Paradise Fibers in my October 2020 Fiber of the Month Club Box as my base fiber. It spun up beautifully, then I started having some concerns.

The colors changed considerably once I had the yarn spun up, that did not concern me too much as I enjoyed the darker aesthetic. However when I plied the yarn onto itself for a test the problems became apparent.

A small piece of woven fabric, less than 1 inch by 1 inch with a metal weaving needle placed on top. The overall weaving is very dark with few distinct colors.

This view is a little too close, however you can see that the colors just turn to mud when the sample is woven against itself, I do not want a cowl that looks like mud. So we are back to more sampling. I spun up some black bamboo fiber, white wool received in the Dyeing box from paradise fibers, along with some grey kromski merino wool. Once I had the new sampling yarn spun I plied it with the corriedale I already had and created a sheet to start to keep track of some of this stuff. Then I used my bookmark pin loom to weave these yarns into samples.

I adore how all three of these colors turned out. The top is the white, grey in the middle, and black on the end. The white allows the corriedale to brighten back up to what it looked like in the fiber, the grey pulls out the purples, and the black gives the entire project a homogeneous look with it looking too muddy. When I posted my progress in the Ravelry Spin Off Group I received the recommendation from Castielstar to perform a neck test and wear the pieces around my neck to see how they feel after some time. Since I spend so much of my time working I did not see a way to do this test at home (I also did not feel like explaining the three colored pieces of wool on my neck) therefore I decided that I would stick them in my bra and see how it goes. Surprisingly I had to pull the piece with the grey merino wool out before an hour had passed, then I forgot that the other two were even there. This easily narrowed my choices down to black or white. Looking at the woven samples, I know that I am going to go with the White. While the black is amazing I feel that the pops of color in the white sample will look better going into spring. Now for the next part of this project, weaving a cowl. Surprisingly there is another Ravelry group that is hosting something that will come in handy.

The Rigid Heddle Looms Group is hosting JAN/FEB 2021 V-COWL AND MÖBIUS WAL. I did not know what I V-Cowl was (I do now, very neat). This new technique is going to make weaving my handspun cowl very interesting, the next step I need to take is to spin up the rest of my white to ply with the corriedale and figure out what my sett is going to be. Ten inches is, I believe, quite tall for a cowl so I will just use my 10″ sample it loom. I have decided that I would like the warp to be 2.5 yards so that the end piece is a little bigger than 40″ long. This will give it room to go around my neck but not choke me ( I hope).

There is one more weaving project that I have decided to start, Mirrix Looms is hosting a Weave Along (Stay At Home Weave Along), while I cannot stay at home I can certainly have fun weaving along with everyone else. So for this weave along I cut off the piece I have not been weaving on my Mirrix and warped 5″ on my loom with double warp threads this morning. I did not purchase their kit, I’m still trying to cut down on my buying, however I do have plenty of tapestry yarn from my earlier dyeing experiments so I will be winding that onto golf tees this morning, since I cannot afford real tapestry bobbins.

In addition to my weaving, I have not been knitting much I will get back to it, I have been doing a couple of other small projects. One of my friends from the Enchanted Mountain Weaver’s guild taught us how to turn paper towels into mini pieces of cloth using watercolor and mod podge. I also obtained one of those wet felted soap kits. I enjoyed making the felted piece and have a ton of fun squishing it in the shower every morning.

I am looking at this post and thinking, “Did you always have this much time?” I know that the answer is no. Right now I am also back to work on Sunday’s at my private university job, just Sundays. It sounds a little silly, however the 8 hours I work on Sundays (if I work 4 Sundays in a month) means about $360 take home pay that month. Perhaps a little more if the mandated minimum wage increase goes through. (Private Universities do not pay nearly what State Colleges do from my experience.) This is about 1/2 a mortgage payment so I cannot afford to sneer at it even with a full-time job. To round out my month I signed up for three classes during the February Vogue Knitting Live Event: Beginning Intarsia, Crochet Socks, Dyeing with Kitchen Scraps. I have also upgraded to the Super Pass, it is very neat to see the recordings of the various demonstrations by vendors. Since I am trying to save up for a down payment on my house I will probably strictly limit any spending during this event however I am excited for the Classes. I used one of my transferring jobs presents to purchase 4 colors of DK yarn for the intarsia class since I seem to only have Fingering and Worsted weight yarn with a little bit of lace weight thrown in here and there. I also love that this is happening during Valentines Day Weekend, so I can genuinely say that I have plans for Valentines…okay so that is a Sunday and I am working at the University..that still counts as plans, right?

So there it is. I’ve had a great month, I am hoping that the trend continues for February. I am finding that my new schedule of getting up at 4: 30 am and going to sleep at 10 pm (on Fridays I need to be out of the house by 6:15 to make sure I get to work on time, it was easier to adjust my entire sleep schedule than have a different one on Friday), means that I have more energy most mornings to do something around the house and get a bit of crafting done. Since this is about a month’s worth of catching up I think that the size of my post is just fine. Until next time, remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

All the Crafts

This has been a learning experience for me.  I have put up a fence around my well cap, it is right beside my driveway and but trucks tend to run over it.  I put up the remaining two fence pieces by my driveway so that my garbage cans cannot easily fall into the ditch.  I warped and started weaving on my rug loom in the detached garage.  I can shoot crafting videos, okay so I’m still improving on that.  I also discovered that I can spin if I hold my fiber very loosely in my bad hand, to do this I am  using my electric wheel because I tend to tightly grasp fiber in my left hand when using my regular wheel.  Knitting is something that can happen (on larger needles) because I only need to hold the needle still in my left hand.  (Crochet is not going to happen because I pinch my project in my left hand while crocheting to keep it still, that still hurts)  Socks still are not going to happen, however I can use size 4 needles.

 

I finished two plying projects, the one on the left is the Shetland Moorit I started spinning last year for the Spin Off Hap-Along.  The project on the right is when I took a couple of lace weight yarns that I plied together to create about a fingering weight yarn.  I do not think that this will actually be a fingering weight yarn, however I think it will be a wonderful project eventually.

I was able to swatch for a mitered square blanket I bought a couple of  years ago, when a knitted afghan project is under $35 it is hard to resist.  I’ve also progressed to knitting a worsted weight shawl out of the Hedgehog Fibres Potluck in a really pretty orange.  I crowd sourced whether I should add on some black or just be done, it was decided that I do not need to add on black.

IMG_3508

Finally I wound up lightly felting my 7′ shawl from my tri loom.  I took a photo before it came off of the loom, I will have a felting photo in another post.

IMG_3492

It has been very busy here.  One of my supervisors is talking about starting procedures for opening back up, presuming that we will be doing this in Mid May.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract, and if you are an introvert check on your extroverts!  Be safe!

Still Spinning

Okay, so the 2 pounds of Shetland Moorit arrived so I am working on carding it into rolags to spin up for my Hap.  I was feeling under the weather a bit so in between my knitting, crocheting, laundry and dishwasher loads, I curled up in bed to look over past issues of Spin-Off Magazine.  While paging through I happened across a pattern for little wrist cuffs as well as ankle cuffs.  Each of these take a bit over 100 yards of fiber, well I have all sorts of little scraps so I decided to go for it.  In December I purchased the international box from Camaj Fiber Arts Spinning Boxes, she was selling off past boxes.  There were some very pretty fibers based on Korea and Norway/Finland that I decided to spin into a little skein.

IMG_2178  I absolutely LOVE how it turned out.  However, it is only 78 yards.  Yes, not even enough for one of the patterns.  Oh well, I have more little samples (I have already started) so I will be incorporating two mini batts, and three more random colored combed tops that look like they will fit the bill.  I am already almost half way through spinning this batch, it already looks like more singles than the last attempt.

IMG_2142

The patterns are from Spin Off Winter 2007 pages 46-47 titled “Anklettos and Wristlettos: Fringe Benefits” by Phreadde Davis.

Hopefully once I have this yarn spun, plied, set, and dried, I will not be either bored with this idea, working on the hap, or ready for more installments from Jimmy Beans Wool.  I will admit to a small amount of introspection, I am aware that I have been keeping myself too busy to really take the time to miss my Mom.  February tends to stink since we lost Dad near the end, I have already found myself crying for no apparent reason simply because it hit me hard that she isn’t around.  Oh well, back to distractions!

Happy Crafting!

Hap-py Adventures

Between a few miserable days at work, teenagers after school at the public library, I managed to get a bit of spinning done for my Hap shawl.  Fortunately the Shetland Moorit I am spinning had already been carded into rolags for Spinzilla so it is just a matter of taking the time to spin it.

img_2104

This is only about four or five rolags of fiber, but they are spinning like a dream.  I am enjoying working toward a self-imposed goal with the encouragement of the fiber arts community.  I know that I will love this shawl no matter how odd the results are.  I am trying to fool myself into thinking that an Orenburg shawl will be my next project, but I am not sure if I am that deluded.

Happy Crafting!

Spinning for a Hap

Spin-Off magazine has their first 2019 spin along project and it is to spin and knit a Shetland Hap by March.  I had thought that I would spin for a sweater this year, just as a random goal, so this will be a great way to figure out if a sweater is a reasonable goal or not.  To that end I have chosen the fibers I want to use, I have some Shetland in brown, pinks, and greens.

There is a tutorial on knitting a Hap on Craftsy/BluPrint that I have watched so at present I am confident that this is something I can accomplish.  The official spin along begins on the 14th, so I will find out then how much work this is going to be.

I did finish spinning my Finn on the Ladybug, it is on the ball winder waiting for me to ply from a center pull ball tonight.  I am internally debating if I want to spin on the Ladybug and ply on the Firefly or reverse the order.  I find that I enjoy spinning more on the Ladybug so I will probably use the Firefly as a ply wheel since I have larger bobbins for that wheel.

Until I get started with that, Happy Crafting!

 

Choosing Tools and Accessories Part 1

I want to preface this post by stating that I am not paid, sponsored, or in any way affiliated with any of the websites I am about to mention.  I am also not endorsing, making money on, or in any way profiting from mentioning them.  I plan on using these posts to detail my journey toward purchasing my first spinning wheel, including links to websites that I have found helpful and explaining my decisions along the way.  Everything mentioned in these posts are my personal opinions and will not reflect what anyone else thinks.

Whew, with the disclaimers out of the way, I am planning to save up for my first Spinning Wheel!  Yay!  Getting started, I guess one of the first things you need to know about me is that I am a Reference Librarian (I know, most people think of the old lady behind a desk that put a rubber stamp in the back of your book and made dire threats if it was late).  No, not that kind of librarian, I have a Masters Degree in Library Science, MLS, (some call it Studies) from a University endorsed by the American Library Association.  Oooh, fancy! What this boils down to is, before I outlay a lot of money (well it is a lot to me) I am going to research the subject to death.  Learn as much as I can about it and then still mull things over for a while before I purchase my first wheel.  I have already begun that process and started to research.

Most of the time you are told to go back to the beginning and start learning from there.  Given that methodology I would begin researching the history of Spinning as a craft and way of life.  Sorry, not really what I wanted to learn.  As I get into it, I am looking forward to learning the rich history of this amazing life-skill, but right now, I want to see what kind of a spinning wheel I should get!  To that end I began by looking at Spin-Off Magazine.

I have a tablet computer (an older iPad really, I love apple) and the Kindle App.  Fortunately for me they offer the first 30 days of a magazine subscription for free.  So I was able to check out the October 2015 issue of Spin-Off Magazine featuring 4-Ply.  What it really featured, for me, were some very interesting articles as well as a lot of useful advertisements.  The best way to get to know a new craft?  Check out some of what is being advertised, and sign up for e-mail newsletters.  This is how I managed to accomplish my next step.  None of the libraries that I work at, Yes I work at more than one, subscribe to Spin-Off.  Actually none of the libraries attached to the libraries that I work at subscribe to Spin-Off, so when I was looking for past issues I found Interweave.  They are the company that publishes Spin-Off, but they are a store also.  I signed up for their newsletter and received an e-mail about their next 50% off digital magazine sale.  I was very happy since each past issue would have cost $8 and they were now $4.  I picked up 6 past issues for what I would have, theoretically since I wasn’t going to pay $8 an issue, paid for 3.  Thus began my journey into learning the technicalities of spinning fiber into yarn.

Two of the advertisers in Spin-Off are Paradise Fibers and Woolery.  Paradise Fibers has a section about choosing the right wheel, they have a blog, and they have daily deals.  All very neat and somewhat useful.  Much more interesting and useful to me, they have a YouTube Channel which contains a video by Kyle about choosing a spinning wheel.  Thanks to Kyle I was able to discover that if I obtain a wheel that just has ‘Scotch Tension’ I will not be able to switch over to a double drive wheel without buying a new wheel!  This just greatly decreased the number of wheels I was looking at.  Kyle also mentioned a couple of things such as portability, how much space the wheel would take up, and making sure you know what accessories are available for your wheel.  They also have a great video about ball winders and yarn swifts, and plenty of other videos about knitting and products they sell.  I really recommend checking them out.  We will talk about Woolery in a minute, but I want to emphasize, I spend hours on YouTube checking out some of the videos available to get an idea of what wheels are available and how they work.  There are even videos of people putting their first wheels together so you can get an idea of some of the problems they ran into.  There are also videos about drop-spindles, sheering sheep and alpaca, and taking the viewer from sheep to rug.  I watched a Navajo woman spinning on a supported spindle and creating thread so fine I could barely see it, it is remarkable.

Woolery is another site that I found very useful.  They have a ton of shopping options and their videos tend to be integrated with their shopping sites, though they have a YouTube Channel as well.  If you click on a subject, such as spinning wheels you are taken not to a sales page, not right away, but to an information page, explaining what wheels are, how they work, and the first link is how to select your wheel.  Their website is dynamic and very well made.  I love their Social Media links right at the top as well as the enormous selection of crafts that they are involved with.  Under each section is an almost overwhelming amount of choices for shopping.  The first couple of times checking out the website it would be really easy to get overwhelmed and a bit lost.  At least that is what happened to me.

Between Spin-Off, Paradise Fibers, and Woolery I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.  There are so many choices, so many different types of wheels and things to keep in mind (Aaah!).  I needed to take a break and rethink where I was going with this.  Several of the sites and crafters were talking about ‘the yarn you see in your vision’ that ‘yarn you are just dying to work with’.  Well, that is not why I wanted to spin my own yarn.  I mostly saw that these yarns are like $30-50 or more a hank and if I wanted to play with them I had to pay a ton, if I wanted to make something like a shawl I felt that I had to be a master knitter just to get started or I would be throwing away an expensive hank of yarn.  This way I can spin the yarns that I want to play with, at the thickness I want, in the colors I want, and eventually at the rate I want.  Instead of paying 30-50 for a single hank I can invest in a wheel and crank out as many hanks as I want, eventually.  Okay, so I am going forward with this project.  Crisis Resolved.

After that crisis I still wasn’t ready to go back to my perusing shopping sites and hankering after different tools, I decided to go back to my research.  Reading articles from my Spin-Off magazines and using Kindle Unlimited to get Start Spinning by Maggie Casey.  I am also currently reading Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont.    This, combined with an offer of buying me  a new drop spindle for Christmas, and the visions of the Navajo woman spinning beautiful yarn, helped to rekindle my interest in the tool I had been using but only as a stop-gap measure.  I had been steadily using my drop spindle to deplete my supply of silk hankies, bought years ago, so that I would have some practice drafting when I had gotten my new wheel, as well as some fiber to ply with.  With all of this floating around somewhere in my mind I decided to look at some drop-spindles.  Paradise fibers has a few that are neat, but they all tend toward Top-Whorl spindles.  Meaning that the weight of the spindle is up near the top, right by the hook.  When you spin, they spin faster and when you have enough fiber you fasten it off below the whorl.  It is a very popular type, and I have one…somewhere.  When I started spinning I learned early I like the bottom whorl spindle better.  I cannot really say why, I like how it feels when I spin it, it doesn’t spin too fast or too slow, and I find it easy to pile the spun product up above the whorl.  So I decided to check out Woolery next, to clarify I have looked at other sites and will continue to do so these are just the two that I have found most useful thus far.

Woolery has an amazing selection of drop spindles as well as Supported Spindles.  Oooh, something new!  Actually the Navajo woman was spinning on a supported spindle so I was vaguely aware of them.  With a Drop Spindle you spin the spindle and draft the fiber from the top, wind the yarn on and repeat.  The main support for the spindle is the yarn being created, if you create yarn that is too thin or you overspin the very thin yarn then your yarn will break and your spindle will, well, drop to the floor.  With a supported spindle you are using one hand to constantly, or nearly constantly, spin the spindle while the other hand drafts out the fibers.  At this time I think that is asking too much for my hand eye coordination, I’m having enough trouble with drafting fibers for the drop spindle when I have two hands to work at it, though both books have given me a lot of tips and I am getting much better at it.  I thought I might have to skip a supported spindle altogether, when I found out that Woolery has two kinds of supported spindles that do not require one hand for keeping the spin going.  One version is machined from brass and costs almost $100. Ow, if that were my only option I might be going with it, but someone thought up the Spindolyn.  This is a hand made version of the supported spindle that can be customized between spindle and support, there is even an extension option so that you can set this spindle on the floor and use it sort of like a tiny spinning wheel.  Okay, so I had to find the creators site to discover about the floor option, it is not available through Woolery at this time.  This is going to be my next purchase while I save up to buy the wheel of my dreams.  Using this I should be able to utilize some of my bamboo stash to create a beautiful silky yarn, or maybe mix some fibers together and experiment.

So far, the conclusions I have reached:

  • My drop spindle is actually great to learn to draft on
  • A supported spindle, Spindolyn in this case, will help me get used to drafting finer fibers
  • When I get a Spinning Wheel I will be getting a Double Drive wheel
  • When I select a Spinning Wheel I will make sure that it has sufficient attachments to allow me to create any kind of fiber I will desire.

That has been my journey toward purchasing a spinning wheel thus far.  I hope to posts pictures of my first Plied Silk from my drop spindle soon.